By the late 20th century, the city hall as an archetype was largely seen simply as an administrative centre for local government. An office building with a grand public lobby and debating chamber. A civic monument from outside, but largely closed-off from the public inside. Public places to meet had in some countries been outsourced to the shopping malls!
As democracy has become more entrenched and wide-spread, its expression in the city hall has altered too. Now these buildings are increasingly seen as people’s palaces. A place owned by the people, but if you like, loaned out to bureaucrats, administrators and politicians as their place of work.
In order for the people to take possession of their building, and by extension their democracy, they must somehow be able to occupy it. All too often however, it seems that lip service is paid to such requirements by providing places for the public within the building, the grand foyer for example, rather than a truly public space.